|December 2007: Holiday Travels
5th entry for December
Finding New Friends in Yuma, AZ
Yuma, AZ, Day Three at Cocopah RV & Golf Resort, Site: 577 Kah Nee Ta
Wednesday, December 26, 2007 Seven Months
|On Sunday, December 23, we were ready to leave Phoenix and head south for Yuma. But pulling out of our site in Sun City posed a bit of a logistics problem because it was so tight. First Dennis surveyed the situation. Then I was posted to watch certain impediments as he pulled out.|
|Hmmm. This is the way I want to go.... and this is where I'm parked. It's going to be a tight turn. Paradise RV Resort, Sun City, AZ 12/23/07 10:36 AM|
|Dennis positioned his front wheel so close to the pad that the rear wheel rode over the pad and tore off the front corner. But he made the turn. Paradise RV Resort, Site: 2535 25th Ave. 12/23/07 10:37 AM||Parked in front of the Paradise RV Resort entrance to hook up the Honda. 12/23/07 10:43 AM|
|Left: Dennis does a last walk-around check. Everything is ready to go. Paradise RV Resort entrance.
12/23/07 10:45 AM
Above: We leave the Phoenix suburbs on I-10W.
|Our trip to Yuma took us four and a half hours but we took a fifty minute lunch break. We drove 195.3 miles. Our route took us west on I-10 and then south on AZ-85 S. In Pima we joined up with I-8 S and that brought us to Yuma. Yuma is located in the far southwest corner of Arizona. It is located next to the borders of California and Mexico.|
|On I-10 W just outside Buckeye town limits near Exit 121, we were slowed down by an accident. The upturned car (lower right) must have hit the guard rail (which began just before this photo) and flipped. Traffic is at a crawl in both directions. 12/23/07 11:31 AM||This is Pima. We never, ever get to stop for lunch when driving the bus and pulling the tow car because it is never clear where we could safely pull over. This is a first. Pima has empty lots next to every establishment. That's us parked in the distance. We walked the dogs and ate Whoppers in Burger King. 12/23/07 1:01 PM|
|The desert as we approach Yuma on I-8 W.
12/23/07 2:12 PM
|Our first glimpse of Cocopah RV & Golf Resort. It's owned by the Cocopah Indian tribe and is situated in the middle of fields of oak leaf lettuce. 12/23/07 3:16 PM|
|What a cheerful aspect. I like Cocopah immediately. We approach the office with a golf course on the right. 12/23/07 3:19 PM||We register and detach the car which I drive. The golf cart ahead belongs to another RV host expert who holds a yellow flag. He leads us to our site. 12/23/07 3:34 PM|
Cocopah is a different kind of resort. It isn’t adult only and it is far less dressy than Paradise in Sun City. They don’t have the amenities in terms of classes and craft rooms. Our site was on a street with other RVs. There were also streets with mobile homes but the whole effect was less dressy. I got the impression that this was more of a place for families and athletic types. I like the feel of a pretty resort without the sense of being uptight. However, the primary reason I chose Cocopah was not only because it had good reviews, but also because several people wrote about the pet area.
Like Paradise, Cocopah is also divided into pet and non-pet areas. The pet people are near a designated Pet Area which was a lawn that had to be at least an acre. Pet owners wrote reviews about this and they raved about the opportunity to let their dogs run free. Shortly after we arrived we walked over to the lawn with the dogs to check it out. In theory you keep your dogs on a leash. But after we hung out awhile with other small dog owners we let them loose. There were a few large dogs also loose but the lawn was large and there seemed to be an unwritten rule where they stayed on one side and we stayed on the other side.
Margot and Rudi had a great time! So did we. We talked to other pet owners and complimented each other on the good looks and abilities of our dogs. Oh my, it was fun. It was almost like our Cotton Club my weekly Coton Playdates when we lived in Los Altos.
|The golf cart guy has helped Dennis to back in and now Dennis is checking the situation. Looks good.
12/23/07 3:37 PM
|After we put out our slides and got settled we hastened up our road, Kah Nee Ta, towards the back entrance street, Cocopah, by the lettuce fields. 12/23/07 4:53 PM|
|Above: The speed limit sign had flowers stuck on top of it and a sign, "Pet City" below. 12/23/07 3:53 PM
Left: The side street that faces the pet lawn is lined with mobile homes.
Below left: We stand at the end of the lawn by the lettuce field. Big dog owners are at the far end. Soon Margot and Rudi were getting acquainted.
Below right: Margot and Rudi have met their match. This little poodle is ready for anything and she is FAST. Soon the three of them were racing around and around the lawn.
|The folks above are having cocktails at a picnic table and our dogs are having a party too. 12/23/07 5:18 PM||Walking back home with the lettuce fields on our left and ahead I snapped an Arizona sunset. 12/23/07 5:31 PM|
|Look at that big lawn. People left balls around so Rudi and Margot got to chase balls too. Rudi beat everyone big or little. However when a dog came out with a soccer ball Rudi chased it but did not take control of the ball. He deferred to the owner. 12/24/07 11:33 AM|
|Christmas Eve morning we were back at it again making a new set of friends. Our dogs were very well behaved off leash. They came when called and Margot did much less barking. 12/24/07 11:26 AM|
Dyanne Demaree Radke is the reason why we came to Yuma. And it was Dyanne and her husband Tom Radke who made a Christmas celebration for us. I’ve been corresponding by email with Dyanne over the past year ever since she and Gretchen contacted me. We all attended Seaside Elementary together and we all graduated from the eighth grade at Riviera Elementary. Hollywood Riviera was located on the hill above Redondo Beach but it was part of the Torrance school district. Gretchen moved to Santa Monica High but Dyanne and I graduated together from Torrance High School in 1957. Gretchen and Dyanne were trying to organize a Riviera reunion that would coincide with the fiftieth high school reunion scheduled last August in Torrance. (In the end, neither Dyanne nor I were able to attend.)
Dyanne and I have felt a special attraction because we both share the RV way of life. She gave us advice and encouragement, as Dennis and I made ready to buy our bus and begin our new way of life. So we were very anxious to meet the Radke’s. They still own their home in Ohio but they run from the snow each winter. After years of winter travel they bought an RV site in Yuma and now they settle here every winter. Over the years they’ve accumulated dozens of snowbird friends who also stay in Yuma every winter.
On Christmas Eve we were invited to meet them at their house in the afternoon and then we were invited to join them at the home of friends for a Christmas Eve Soup Party. We found the Radke’s living in southeast Yuma and discovered an entirely new kind of suburb. This one is designed to house and shelter people with big coaches like ours. A half-house has an attached carport roof that is big enough and high enough to shelter a 13’ bus. The house has a patio and sliding doors that admit you to a living room. Beyond is a bathroom and kitchen. Behind the kitchen is a two-car garage. The Radke’s also have a side yard and driveway that allow guests to park a bus while they stay for days or weeks to visit. Both couples can share the extra space available in the house. It is really a new way of looking at a vacation home.
|Elsa Barlow and Dyanne Demaree, Torrance High School graduates in June 1957. My joke was that we haven't changed a bit in fifty years. Right is a current photo of Dyanne cropped with a monochromatic application. You can't miss that smile and pointed chin.|
|We sit on the patio visiting. The screen lets in light but I imagine it protects from wind and debris. Through it you can see the visiting Safari owned by Ron & Sue Pyeatt of Washington. 12/24/07 2:28 PM||Next to the patio is the carport where the Radke's Safari is parked. Their door is in the middle of the coach and handy to the door of the house.|
|The Radke's car is parked in front of their coach. I believe all the homes on this street are similar.||At the end of the house wall is the garage. There is room for this guest coach plus a small side yard and back yard.|
Tom and Dyanne are very friendly and easy to get to know. They showed us all around and we sat on the patio to visit. Later we drove a few blocks away to a party in a regular house with larger accommodations for a party living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. Something like a dozen couples were gathered for the Soup Party. They are all snowbirds and they all stay in Yuma for most of the winter. Tables were set up in the living room and a buffet set up on kitchen counters. The hosts, Garry and Sue Wilson, of Sandy, UT made three kinds of soups and there were many other side dishes as well.
Garry sat next to us and we discovered that he is a talented artist. He makes framed pictures out of small, multicolored pieces of wood. The technique is called Intarsa. He showed us several photo albums of his completed work. I was amazed. Sitting next to us were Garry’s neighbors, Larry and Janet of Iowa. Janet went home and brought back the rendering that Garry made of their dog, Brittany. I believe she was an English Spaniel. The carving was wonderful and we all admired it.
Yuma has given us an overwhelmingly friendly welcome. We no sooner pulled into our Cocopah site then another Allegro Bus couple hailed us and came over to talk. Our neighbors in a Terry Quantum fifth wheel came over to welcome us. They had a “patio” set up outside their RV with extra chairs and a little patio propane fire pit. They invited us to join their group at any time. This is unusual and it gave us a feeling of cheer as soon as we arrived. Maybe it is because of the Christmas season. The atmosphere everywhere is informal and welcoming.
|The Radke's Safari is convenient to the house. They use both living areas.|
Early Christmas morning Santa dashed through Yuma and stirred up a sand storm in his wake. It woke me about three AM and that was my first thought: “Santa must have just blown by.” Our bus shook and I wondered if we should bring in our slides. In the morning I saw that our Terry Quantum neighbor still had his awnings up. Then I noticed they were tied down with lines secured in the ground. He’s used to these storms. Their chairs and other effects were scattered everywhere but no damage done. I peeked out the window and saw trees blowing and decorations swinging. With fascination, I watched the expert blackbirds find shelter from the wind as they settled on the ground in the lee of an RV or a concrete pad.
The dogs, our kids, were excited with their little stockings filled with doggy treats. Soon we ventured out in the wind for another outing at the pet park. Then we left them and carefully drove 35 minutes to the Radke’s house for a Christmas morning Omelet-in-a-Bag Party. There are warning signs in these parts about dust storms, which can cause you to pull over with zero visibility. With the wind and sand I was worried about arriving safely and also being able to return. The amount of sand blowing across the freeway was a remarkable sight.
The party at the Radke house was tremendous fun. Their guests, Ron and Sue Pyeatt of Washington, were the official hosts. I was very curious to see how one does an omelet in a bag. We learned and now I can’t wait to stage a similar party. What a fun idea! As we sipped our mimosas and supervised the assemblage of our individual omelets. we met the same people we’d met the night before and became better acquainted. We talked with Betty and Einar of Montana, Dan and Dianna Kerzarin of Salt Lake City, and Ingvar and Ramona Vik of Livingston, Montanta
|Our Terry Quantum neighbor seen through our bedroom window. It is unusual to face each other. We are catty-corner to each other because two RVs can park one behind the other. 12/23/07||This is the rear end of the Terry Quantum after the big Christmas morning wind. Chairs are scattered but no damage. 12/25/07|
|Behind our bus, blackbirds seek shelter next to an empty concrete pad and the RV seen upper right. 12/25/07||Rudi is excited with Christmas morning treats. 12/25/07|
|HOW TO STAGE AN OMELET-IN-A-BAG BREAKFAST: First put your egg mixture in a pitcher. Set out ziplock bags and a big felt pen. 12/25/07||Garry moves down the counter and adds his choice of meat, cheese and vegetables to his omelet. He squishes the contents to mix them up and seals his bag.|
|Pat has the omelet breakfast extras laid out on the counter. All this preparation took place in the garage.|
|Ron is in charge of monitoring the ziplock bags of omelets. They boil in water for about five minutes. Half done he squishes the bags with tongs and then returns them to their hot bath for another five minutes.|
|Dyanne sets out cinnamon rolls on the counter. In the living room she surveys her Christmas tables and her breakfast guests.|
Tom picked us up and we rode in the Radke’s van. Cocopah is actually situated in the corner of Arizona right next to California and Mexico. We could see I-8 and California and the Mexican border from the pet park and lettuce fields of Cocopah.
There are many articles available on the Internet about Algodones. One states that it is less than five minutes from Yuma. However, from Cocopah, it took us 35 minutes. To drive there we had to backtrack through Yuma to I-8 exit 2 and then drive across the state border into California and then to a parking lot owned by the Quechen Indian Tribe. They charge $5 per day and it is a very short walk from there into Algodones.
|Thank you Tom and Dyanne for making our Christmas a merry day. We had a terrific time at your Omelet-in-a-Bag Breakfast Party. Photo by Dyanne. Yuma, 12/25/07|
What a difference between Algodones and Juarez: no long and depressing prison wire bridge and no hassle from the vendors. A quick walk by a building and we were there. Algodones is considerably more sophisticated than Juarez. A serious attempt is made to have the streets, shops, restaurants, and public bathrooms be neat and clean. Vendors speak English and while they encourage you to enter their shop, they don’t hound you and follow you around. The atmosphere was more like an arts and crafts faire where everyone is friendly and having fun. This was helpful to us but I think our experience was also greatly improved simply because we were with fellow Americans who knew their way around and acted as our guides. We were able to relax and have a good time.
Like thousands of other winter visitors, Tom and Dyanne go to Algodones regularly. They buy their prescription drugs there, get their prescription glasses there and visit their dentist there. They also like to shop and buy gifts or decorative items for their house. They are very familiar with the town and confidently walked us around the three by eight blocks between US Customs to Ave “A” through Ave “C” and from Zaratoga and Canal Alamo through 1st St. to 3rd Streets up to San Felipe & Mexicali. See map: http://www.losalgodones.com/map.htm
The Radke’s showed us where they buy their prescription drugs and made an appointment with their dentist. We explored some shops and then went to lunch. They took us to Rincon Ristorante. We could have sat indoors or on the patio but although it was a cold day, we decided to brave the chilly air so that we could sit outside on the upstairs balcony and watch the street below. The menu and food were no different from any of the many Mexican restaurants where we eat in the states and our waiter was friendly, humorous and spoke excellent English.
After lunch we went downstairs to the plaza and took time to watch the spray paint artists. They work very fast making paintings (framed instantly) or decorating vases and other objects with painted scenes. Clearly they have made hundreds of the same scenes and they execute the development of a painting with amazing speed.
We were ready to leave at 1:20 PM and we did find a line and waited 35 minutes to go through customs. Algodones provides a shaded walkway and waiting benches. The waiting crowd was cheerful and we all joked and talked in line. On a busy day I was told the wait could run up to three hours.
LOS ALGODONES, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
Algodones, Mexico is an unusual little border town. What’s so unusual about Algodones? We heard that within a four block radius there are more pharmacies, doctors, dentists and opticians than a similar four block area anywhere else in the world! And, this “border medical land” attracts thousands of Canadians and Americans weekly. What’s the big attraction? You can find heavily discounted prescriptions, eye-glasses, and medical and dental care. And, if you listen to your friends in the snowbird RV parks, they can tell you that the care from their Algodones doctor or dentist is as good as anywhere back home.
Good new! You can eat the food served in the local restaurants and have a margarita without worrying about water-related issues. The water, I am told, is Yuma, Arizona water. And indeed, we had salad, Mexican food, a Margarita and had no problems whatsoever. Keep in mind that the Margaritas may be pretty potent so adjust your consumption accordingly. We enjoyed dining al fresco at El Paraiso, The Garden Place. The patio is not easy to find as it’s in the center of one of the shopping blocks. Any vendor can direct you though. We enjoyed our lunch, listened to live music and got a kick out of the begging tortoise that roamed from table to table begging for lettuce. Vendors also went table to table. While this added to the color of the experience, we were glad that they easily took “no, gracias,” for an answer. Prices? We had a full lunch, extra guacamole and a large Margarita for $19.00 for the two of us.
We also heard that Pueblo Viejo restaurant, close to the border crossing is good. Pueblo Viejo looked clean and cool inside. It would be a good stop on a hot day.
The friendly atmosphere encourages shoppers to spend moneyand almost all of the vendors are willing to dicker on price. Most everything you can buy across the border is cheaper, and visitors must only pay attention to the limits on quantity (three months of prescriptions) as they buy.
Curio shops go on for about six city blocks. Photo By Mary Reynolds
Dental and medical care is tremendously less and the quality matches their American counterparts. There are a couple hundred dentists and doctors in Algodones, specifically to cater to foreign visitors.
|I follow Dyanne to the border on the street just ahead. Then we head towards their pharmacy and dentist. Los Algodones, 12/26/07|
|We look at colorful goods on the street and I admire a painted wall decorated with hands and names. Los Algodones, 12/26/07|
|We walk down lanes, look at shops and pose for photos. Above: Tom Radke and Dennis Walton.
Right: You know who. Los Algodones, 12/26/07
|We walk through a plaza where they polish shoes and do spray paint art to a restaurant inside the yellow building. Inside, there is a pretty patio restaurant area but we go upstairs to sit on the balcony. Los Algodones, 12/26/07|
|During lunch we sit on a balcony where we can look down on the street. Los Algodones, 12/26/07||Dyanne and Tom at our balcony table at Rincon Ristorante in Los Algodones. 12/26/07|
|After lunch in the plaza below our restaurant, we stopped to admire the handiwork of street spray paint artists. This fellow painted scenes on objects such as vases and lanterns. Los Algodones, 12/26/07|
|This artist made spray paint pictures on wood. The yellow and orange are the sky for what developed into a desert sunset scene. Los Algodones, 12/26/07|
|As we walked back to the border I heard a vendor stop this girl and tell her she had her hat on backwards. He fixed it for her and then she posed for me. She was having lots of fun.|
|Left: We waited in line for 35 minutes to go through US Customs. Right: I turn back to take a photo of the US Customs exit as we walk back to our parking lot.|
On the way back the Radke’s showed us the old downtown area of Yuma. I picked up some brochures at the Visitor’s Center. We are enthusiastic about Yuma and plan to return, especially now that we have friends to visit. Tom and Dyanne definitely made our Christmas and our visit to Yuma. Despite our fifty-plus ties from grade school and high school we were essentially strangers. Dyanne made it all happen and I am grateful to her. We paused to rest a minute in the bus and then hugged goodbye with promises to get together again soon.
|Dyanne and Tom take a brief rest on our bus after our trip to Algodones. Cocopah RV Resort, 12/26/07|
Gladwell says, “What makes someone a Connector? The first--and most obvious--criterion is that Connectors know lots of people. They are the kinds of people who know everyone. All of us know someone like this. But I don't think that we spend a lot of time thinking about the importance of these kinds of people.”
I suspect that Dyanne is a natural born Connector. I think it is an amazing trait.
Dyanne Demaree Radke
The Great Connector
|After our return, Dennis and I set about getting ready to leave the next morning for Lake Havasu City where we plan to visit the Walton clan. Of course, we had to take the dogs for a walk after our return and I took a few more photos of Cocopah RV Resort. On our drive back from Algodones I took a photo from the freeway in California of Cocopah. Then from Cocopah I took a photo of the horizon where the Mexico border is located. It is strange to be within walking distance of these borders!|
|The dogs get one last chance to run around on the pet area lawn. Notice Rudi has a ball in his mouth. No dog, large or small, can beat Rudi when it comes to chasing a ball. Cocopah RV Resort, 12/26/07||Dennis walks back from the lawn towards our street, Kah Nee Ta. Note the shadow where the macadam road drops four inches to the dirt shoulder. Later at night this was a source of harm to me my nemesis. 12/26/07|
|Outside the registration office is a pond and a Santa scene. Cocopah RV Resort, 12/26/07 4:29 PM||Sunset as seen from our bus. Cocopah RV Resort, 12/26/07 5:29 PM|
|From I-8 on our drive back from Mexico to Yuma I took this photo looking southeast to our Cocopah RV Resort. 12/26/07 2:04 PM||From the edge of Cocopah by the golf course I took this photo looking northwest towards the Mexican border. It is where the power lines are located. 12/27/07 9:30 AM|
That Wednesday night, December 26th, I fell and turned my ankle. We think it is a bad sprain and not a fracture I hope. It happened because we decided to walk the dogs before going to bed. It was dark but we had a flashlight. The Radke’s gave one to each of us Christmas morning after breakfast. It’s a little marvel that works without batteries. It has a metal piece that goes through a coil when you shake it. But Dennis didn’t keep it on as we walked. It didn’t seem necessary as we walked on the empty macadam road towards the pet area. Usually your eyes get adjusted to the dark but it was a black night and there are no lights by the field where we walked.
We were talking and I was looking up at the stars so I wasn’t paying attention. I guess I wandered over to the side of the road and didn’t realize it. My right foot was parallel to the right edge of the road but half of it stepped on the road and half rolled off four inches down into the dirt shoulder. My ankle twisted over to the right and my anklebone hit hard on the ground. I fell forward. Wow, I was shocked. What a surprise. I’m not the type to have accidents or hurt myself. I’m not particularly athletic and I’m very careful.
Poor Dennis couldn’t get to me because both fool dogs started to bark at me as if I was a chupacabra sneaking up on them to suck their blood. He had to get them under control before he could help me to sit up. He helped me to get to a parked car and I leaned against and held Rudi’s leash while he took Margot back and got our car. He drove me back to the bus and I laid down on our bed. Oh boy! The ankle was swollen up especially on the right, as if a balloon had sprung out of my anklebone. Dennis thought we should go to a doctor but I didn’t want to get in the car and go wandering around a strange town and then spend hours in emergency. I said I thought it wasn’t broken because I could move wiggle my toes and move my ankle. Dennis put ice in a bag and we wrapped that around my ankle with a towel. I kept it elevated for the rest of the night. We left the next morning for Lake Havasu as planned. I figured I would deal with it later.
|Is it a Burrowing Owl? We spotted him in the Albertson's parking lot where Tom stopped so I could run in and buy a pound of Starbuck's coffee.
Photo by Dyanne Radke. Yuma, 12/26/07
|Hey, it's not often that I get a good photo of all of us. Here's a pretty good Christmas portrait. Photo by Dyanne Radke. Yuma, 12/26/07|
Elsa Walton, Cocopah RV & Golf Resort, Yuma, AZ, Thursday, December 27, 2007